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The Wild Duck (original Norwegianmarker title: Vildanden) is an 1884 play by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.

Plot

The first act opens with a dinner party hosted by Hakon Werle, a wealthy merchant and industrialist. The gathering is attended by his son, Gregers Werle, who has just returned to his father's home following a self-imposed exile. There, he learns the fate of a former classmate of his, Hjalmar Ekdal. Hjalmar married Gina, a young servant woman in the Werle household. The elder Werle had arranged the match by providing Hjalmar with a home and a profession as a photographer. Gregers, whose mother died believing that Gina and her husband had carried on an affair, becomes enraged at the thought that his old friend is living a life built on a lie.

Guided by a fervent strain of idealism, Gregers endeavors to reveal the truth to Hjalmar, and thereby free him from the mendacity which surrounds him. To that end, Gregers takes up residence in the Ekdal Home.

He meddles in the affairs of a strange family, producing disastrous results. Figuratively speaking, he lives in a house whose closets are full of skeletons. Over the course of the play the many secrets that lie behind the Ekdals' apparently happy home are revealed to Gregers, who insists on pursuing the absolute truth, or the "Summons of the Ideal". This family has achieved a tolerable modus vivendi by ignoring the skeletons (among the secrets: Gregers' father impregnated his servant Gina then married her off to Hjalmar to legitimize the child, and Hjalmar's father has been disgraced and imprisoned for a crime the elder Werle committed.) and by permitting each member to live in a dreamworld of his own—the feckless father believing himself to be a great inventor, the grandfather dwelling on the past when he was a mighty sportsman, and little Hedvig, the child, centering her emotional life around an attic where a wounded wild duck leads a crippled existence in a make-believe forest.

To the idealist all this appears intolerable. To him as to other admirers of Ibsen it must seem that the whole family is leading a life "based on a lie"; all sorts of evils are "growing in the dark". The remedy is obviously to face facts, to speak frankly, to let in the light. However, in this play the revelation of the truth is not a happy event because it rips up the foundation of the Ekdal family. When the skeletons are brought out of the closet, the whole dreamworld collapses; the weak husband thinks it is his duty to leave his wife, and the little girl, after trying to sacrifice her precious duck, shoots herself with the same gun. One of the famous quotes from the doctor Relling who built up and maintained the lies the family is founded on is "Deprive the average human being of his life-lie, and you rob him of his happiness.” "

Different translations use different words for the 'life-lie'. In Eva le Gallienne's translation, Relling says "I try to discover the Basic Lie - the pet illusion - that makes life possible; and then I foster it." He also says "No, no; that's what I said: the Basic Lie that makes life possible."

Adaptations

In 1963 the play was made into a motion picture by Tancred Ibsen, Henrik Ibsen's grandson.

A 1983 film version in English, with the characters' names completely Anglicized, starred Jeremy Irons.

Playwright Paul Grellong based his play Radio Free Emerson on The Wild Duck, receiving its world premiere at the Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket in May 2007.

List of characters

  • Håkon Werle, a wholesale merchant
  • Gregers Werle, his son
  • Old Ekdal, the former business partner of Håkon Werle
  • Hjalmar Ekdal, Old Ekdal's son, a photographer
  • Gina Ekdal, his's wife
  • Hedvig, their daughter, aged fourteen
  • Mrs. Sørby, housekeeper and fiancee of Håkon Werle
  • Relling, a doctor, lives below the Ekdals.
  • Molvik, formerly a student of theology, lives below the Ekdals
  • Pettersen, servant to Håkon Werle
  • Jensen, a hired waiter
  • Mr. Balle, a dinner guest
  • Mr. Flor, a dinner guest


Notes



  1. Krutch, Joseph Wood. "Modernism" in Modern Drama: A Definition and an Estimate. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1953. Page 15.


See also



Reference

le Gallienne, E. (1961). The Wild Duck and Other Plays by Henrick Ibsen. The Modern Library: New York. Page 194.

External links




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